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The Survival Mindset

The Survival Mindset

It is difficult to talk about the psychology of survival, if you have never been faced with coping with survival.  I made friends with soldiers in wars in faraway lands where people were firing at us trying to kill us. People we had nothing against that were still trying to kill us. This caused a great deal of stress and great deal of anxiety.  But we were there, and as you know, a soldier learns from his experiences and the awareness of those experiences cause wide variety of stress, and it has to do with their survival, and I will try to explain exactly what I am talking about.

Let me explain what it is like as a new combatant.  This will give you an idea about how young soldier learns to deal with stress.  Now granted, soldiers in basic training are taught on the possibilities of facing an enemy who is going to try to take his life.  And they learn how also to take the enemy’s life through long-range implements such as a rifle or up close and personal with your hands or with a knife.  Understanding the idea that you may have to take the life of another individual area has you trained to look at these people as the enemy.  But at 18 or 19 years of age it’s very hard to think that way.  So it puts a tremendous amount of emotional and mental stress on that person.  Especially when they’re suddenly were to transported to a country 10,000 miles away, where people are going to shoot at them.

You have to look at how that stress is preparing you for the unknown.  Different types of psychological situations are going to help you prepare.  Stress is not a disease.  Stress is an experience.  It is something that you think you are something which you can eliminate.  But it is also an experience that will help you develop a reaction to a certain given set of circumstances.  Now everybody experiences some kind of stress situation.  A common reaction is the flight or fight syndrome.  When you are facing this uncertainty   different types of things will affect you.  You have difficulty making decisions.  You have moments of anger, you’ll constantly worry and when you are in this situation you could make mistakes causing your death or the death of others.

As you learn to deal with stress, adrenaline is going through your body causing that flight or fight sensation can start to equalize your reactions.  That tension, along with acute sensations in your mind will help you become aware of your surroundings.  When you become aware of your surroundings, you are in a mental state where you can learn to cope with different types of dangers.

Now, one of the things that you going to deal with is the possibility of dying or the possibility of injury.  When you are in a wilderness situation it is much more dangerous than you think. Cuts, severe bruises and broken bones can lead to situations that you are not able to medically treat without good training.  This is what we are going to try to teach you in advance field course exercises. Today we are going to teach you all about training, planning and preparation and the survival mechanisms that it is required to get you through even the most horrific situation you’ll encounter.

Many of the things that were going to talk about are very simple to understand but very difficult to cope with. We’ll talk about the possibility of you ending up alone. We’ll talk about the possibility of hunger.  What about the possibility of injury that may be an immediate medical necessity? You may be sick, what if you are on prescription medication?  How do you deal with a death?

You are going to have to deal with the environment – where hunger and thirst are going to be constant companions if you are unprepared. When I trained my martial arts, things that I talk about a combat situation is factors called fear, uncertainty and doubt these are all naturally actual reactions addressed in a survival situation.  You will have moments of depression.  You will have moments of fear that will cause anxiety.

Now, let’s talk about these in more detail.


When you are trying to survive fear could cause you to make mistakes.  There is no shame in being afraid, every soldier that I ever dealt with including myself had moments of stark terror. A bullet passing by your head or within inches your body watching the dirt kicked up around you not knowing if that bullet you never hear may claim your life.  My goal here help you deal with fear is to teach methods of preparation and planning that will help you to understand what it is to survive in stressful situations.


It is normal for us to have fear in an unknown situation.  We also will have doubt.  This uncertainty will cause confusion and anxiety if we are not careful.  It will cause situations that could lead to our injury or death. Once uncertainty occurs may become more difficult for you to make good judgment.  So, you have to learn techniques that will help call these fears, these uncertain thoughts so that you are able to survive.


The next thing I talked about is a coping mechanism.  Unlike fear, unlike uncertainty, doubt is understanding whether or not you have the ability to survive.  You can overcome doubt by training and knowledge.  This knowledge will allow you to understand your situation, evaluate your dilemma and reach a workable and safe outcome.

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